Council rejects Barksdale Green
Plan called for 14 townhomes
On Monday night, council shot down a developer’s controversial plan to build townhouses on Barksdale Road, choosing to side with nearby neighbors who have been up in arms about the project since it was announced earlier this year.
The board unanimously voted against rezoning 1101 and 1107 Barksdale Road and amending the comprehensive plan to allow Daniel Kandra to build 14 condominium townhomes on the roughly 1.38 acres where there are currently singlefamily homes with rental permits. The proposed development, called Barksdale
Green, was to be accessed through a private drive off Barksdale Road called Marjorie Way.
Kandra planned to rent the townhomes to families, retirees and young professionals – not students – and had agreed to deed-restrict the property to two unrelated tenants per unit.
Hillcrest Associates, a Pennsylvania-based architecture and engineering firm, came up with a drainage plan for the area to reduce runoff during heavy rainstorms, but it wasn’t enough to convince city council that Barksdale Green was a good idea.
The project was not consistent with the current comprehensive plan for the area, which calls for low-density, single-family homes with up to three units per acre, and council didn’t think it was appropriate to amend the plan to make it work.
When it comes to Barksdale Green, it hasn’t been the easiest road for Kandra.
The plan originally moved to council without a positive recommendation from the planning commission after the board split 3-3 on June 8 regarding the request to amend the comprehensive plan. The commission declined to vote on the rezoning or subdivision plan.
A month later, the project returned to the planning commission for a second review after City Solicitor Bruce Herron recommended it vote on the rezoning and subdivision plan before passing it along to council. Commissioners ended up voting 6 to 1 to recommend council rezone the property from RS (single-family detached) to RR (row or townhomes) and approve the subdivision plan.
Each time Barksdale Green has been discussed, nearby residents of Cherry Hill Manor have spoken out against the project, upset by its proximity to their neighborhood. The scene at Monday night’s council meeting was no different.
Robyn Harland, a resident of Ethan Allen Court, said her neighborhood has drainage issues during heavy storms, and the additional homes in Barksdale Green would just make things worse.
“I’m walking in knee-deep water in the roadway of Cherry Hill Manor when it rains,” she said.
She was skeptical that Hillcrest’s soil and flooding mitigation plan would improve the flooding.
“It’s not going to change it,” Harland said. “I’m telling you, it’s not going to change it.”
Jim Green, who also lives on Ethan Allen Court, echoed Harland’s remarks.
“Extra houses and extra driveways on those two plots adds water runoff, no matter how good the engineering plan,” he said.
He thought the project was too dense and suggested Kandra reduce the number of units from 14 to four or six to allow for more open space.
“It’s too big. It’s too tall. It’s just too much for a residential area,” Green said.
Rebecca Evans, a landlord of a home on Ethan Allen Court, has said in the past that the height of the homes proposed for Barksdale Green make her concerned about her tenants’ privacy. The new condos were going to be three stories tall while the neighboring homes are all one or two stories.
She told council on Monday that she drafted a petition to reconfigure the proposal and had collected 41 signatures from residents in Cherry Hill Manor and Saw Mill Court, which is adjacent to the property off Barksdale Road.
One of those residents, Katie Thompson, said she wishes she and her husband knew about the plan for Barksdale Green before they bought their home last year.
“We would have never made an offer on our home,” she said.
Councilman Todd Ruckle asked if city staff had reviewed the stormwater plan, to which Planning Director Maureen Feeney Roser responded that they had. She said Public Works deemed it “acceptable.”
But Councilman Mark Morehead wasn’t convinced. He said the stormwater issues in that area would be be worsened if Barksdale Green is built, and residents are already paying for a city-wide, multi-million dollar overhaul of the system.
“This design is too much in my mind for this location,” he said.
Council unanimously decided to reject Barksdale Green, but not before one last-ditch effort was made by Rick Longo, owner of Hillcrest and lead architect for the project, who scrambled to withdraw the proposal in the middle of the vote. Mayor Polly Sierer rejected his withdrawal attempt.
According to Newark’s code, rezoning proposals rejected by council cannot be reconsidered for two years. The only way the project could come back before then is by a three-fourths vote from the planning commission or council.
An artist’s rendering shows townhouses proposed for 1101 and 1107 Barksdale Road. On Monday, council unanimously rejected the project.